Yesterday morning in church, I spoke on two passages:
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:1-2).
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Often we are chasing and coming against the strongholds that are "out there," and we ignore the strongholds that are in our own minds. Those are thoughts that accumulate over time, and become a rigid way of doing things or seeing the world. For example, if you as a child did not do well in math, you began to think, "I am just not good in math." That thought is reinforced by poor performance, which just "proves" you are not smart. Perhaps comments from others reinforced that thought, so that you began to avoid math classes. When you got to university and were confronted with having to take a math class, panic set in because you know how you are: the stronghold in your mind says you are no good at math.
You can have a stronghold that works against you using social media: "Oh, I'm no good at that. I don't have time anyway." So as the world continues to go digital and connects through many media, you resist the trend because you have a stronghold that actually causes you to fear the social media. Oh, you may not act like you are afraid, maintaining that it is your choice not to participate, but in most cases, you have built up a thought that now has a strong hold on your mind.
The thing that I saw yesterday that I had never seen before is that a stronghold in your mind always results in panic and fear when that stronghold is challenged or confronted, just like the example above. The army of Israel in the story of David had a stronghold in their mind, and it was that Goliath was too big for anyone to fight. When the stronghold confronted them, they were terrified: "On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified" (1 Samuel 17:11) and "Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear" (1 Samuel 17:24).
How can you identify your strongholds? You can do so by honestly assessing where your greatest fears are. Then you can pursue the root cause of that fear and as you do, your pursuit will lead you to the stronghold. Next week, we will look at how you can pull down the strongholds, but your assignment this week is to get comfortable with the fact that you have them, and begin to realize the effects produce in your life. Have a blessed week!